Below is an excerpt from my book, “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.” In this section of my book I am describing to my therapist a theory I had researched in grad school before my psychotic break with reality at age 28, long before I was to start my life over from scratch as a conceptually-challenged yet more feeling person. Breakdowns can destroy cognitive functioning. It did for me. While I was never ever good at conceptual thinking, the breakdown has made it virtually impossible to understand even the most basic concepts. Despite being on medications for Bipolar Disorder, my mind simply does not work as it once did. This is often humiliating and frustrating though I am mostly okay with it.
Yet, in the past few months, I found Mooji and am following his path– something I thought I would never do because Buddhism was so “beyond” me. And I find myself following many Buddhist blogs. Many times reading such posts and poetry sail way above my comprehension. But this, too, is good. It is humbling and it deprives the ego of its food supply, which according to Mooji, is good. A “chop” at the ego-self is needed over and over again in order to be in the Presence. But the mind still yearns to understand.
For what it is worth here is the excerpt from a therapy session in which I describe my “theory” to my therapist. What is synchronicitous is that the theory sounds somewhat Buddhist in nature. It opens with me talking to my therapist, or rather, reading from my notebook, because I found it difficult to talk at times.
“Alpha = life in utero. Birth = the end of life in utero— death of a sort, a seeming death. Birth is entering the world of light— Reality.
“Reality is too much. People need to escape— to regress. Therefore, the mind goes into altered states of consciousness.” I look up and stop reading and explain. “I studied this when I was in graduate school. I hit upon the literature of altered states of consciousness while I was in a Psych class doing a research paper on creativity and I became obsessed with the topic. I nearly had a breakdown then because I wasn’t eating or sleeping or going to classes. All I was doing was this research and writing. A friend in the dorm used to make sure I ate something. But all that time I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. The material was difficult and I was afraid I was really going off the deep end and writing far out stuff. But in the end the professor gave me an A+ on the paper…”
“Anyhow,” I say as I start to read from my notebook again, “many altered states of consciousness have been found to coincide with the production of alpha brain wave patterns.” I stop reading again and say, “I know this first hand because I did biofeedback once and the feeling you get when you’re producing alpha waves is the same as the one you get in mystical experiences and meditation. Altered states of consciousness typically occur under conditions of sensory deprivation or sensory overload because overloading the system shuts it down, so in effect it becomes a condition of sensory deprivation. The first experience of sensory deprivation occurs in the womb. The ultimate form of sensory deprivation is death. Death is a return to the womb. The womb of the earth. Therefore, Alpha = Omega.”
So there it is in a nutshell. The book is mainly an emotional chronicle of relationships, and finding love, despite being very handicapped by Bipolar Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD. If you would like to purchase it for $2.95 please click on the link below:
Kitt O’Malley over at Kittomalley.com, so generously reviewed my book on being Bipolar and Aspie and the fight for sanity and love, in a post on her blog. Kitt, a psychotherapist and mother and wife, writes about vital and informative topics pertaining to mental health, ranging from being a Bipolar parent to a relationship with God. She can also be found at @kittomalley on Twitter. A big THANK YOU to Kitt for posting this review.
I greatly enjoyed reading and highly recommend Ellen Stockdale Wolfe’s autobiographical story of love alongside psychological and neurological growth: Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things: Learning to Love as a Bipolar Aspie. In her memoir, Ms. Stockdale Wolfe writes of her struggle with Asperger’s and Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. Her autobiography traces her growth in her ability to love deeply and truly, her mental health history, and how she overcame challenges of her unique Aspie brain (Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder). She uses that unique brain as well as her sensitive soul to create beauty, whether it be this memoir, a poem, photograph, or painting. To see more of her stunning work, check her out at StockdaleWolfe.com, her site is appropriately entitled MOONSIDE | TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART.
The cool of green shade
steps to a secret place
locked doors of a shed
the innocence of childhood lost
in a matter of minutes
and no one knew
for years and years and years
dare break the silence even now
Grandpa did a naughty
and it remained
forgotten for years
until you shared your story
of what happened to you
there were other times
of lesser evil
but sketched in memory
enough to sting
so many decades later
I have forgiven
but no longer forgotten
from so early in life
I adored him
etched deep wounds
though the misdemeanors minor
by most standards
just enough to give pause
if I see a secret place
all too inviting
for the sins
a forbidden intimacy
just enough to
add guilt and shame and fear
where they do not belong
in the shade
Long ago, when I was very young, we used to go visit my great grandfather in Vermont. “Pop,” we called him, was a minister. He was a minister at Riverside Church in New York City, just two blocks from where my husband and I have lived for the past 25 years. Pop and Nana, my great grandmother, spent summers in Greensboro, Vermont, right on a lake, facing the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The lake was pristine. So clean you could drink the water. So cold even in summer, you had to wait until afternoon to swim. So cold fires burned in the fireplace in the mornings. I was scared of fire back then and remember crying and Pop took me back to his little office in the woods where he often had a fire going, to give me a lecture about fear. He told me if you were careful and knew what you were doing and had respect for it, fire was safe in the fireplace and I should not be afraid.
Early in the mornings my Dad and Pop and a neighbor would go fishing for perch for breakfast. They would come home with many fish and then would clean the scales into a bucket off the kitchen. Nana would cook them and serve the fish with fluffy eggs, and soft, buttered toast. And there was sweet, home-made marmalade with bits of peel to relish. We would eat out on the sun porch at a long table in the warm, but not hot, bright yellow sun.
Usually I went to Greensboro with my parents but sometimes Pop would drive me up at nighttime. Twelve hours on old back roads, passing through dark, sleeping towns. There were no highways then. I loved Vermont, and Nana and Pop’s house on the lake. I loved walking along the brook that flowed through their backyard. I loved looking at the blood-red poppies in their garden. But I didn’t like the swarms of gnats that hung in the fresh, warm air. Nor the snakes. Neither did Nana. I remember Nana using a garden tool to cut a garter snake in half. This seemed horrific and puzzling at the time, and seems even more grizzly today. I didn’t understand why we had to kill the snakes.
Nana was very strict, an old New England schoolmarm. My pajamas had to be neatly folded under my bed pillow or else they wound up in the “pound”, a big wooden chest, filled with other untidy things. A child had to pay money to get things out of the pound. I had almost no money then so this was a very effective form of punishment. It is true I was given a modest sum of money when we went to the general store in town. With it I would buy colorful fake wax miniature soda bottles. You would bite off the waxy top and drink the sweet liquid inside the pretend soda bottle. I learned a valuable lesson. The liquid was gone in a second– there was a flash of intense pleasure– and then you were left broke, with an unpleasant wad of wax in your mouth.
Town was miles away. The mail boxes were far away but you could walk to them along the driveway. And the nearest neighbors were far away, too. You had to walk along the lake, through the woods, to get to their house. Upon arrival, the grown-ups would have drinks and play cards and talk about this disease you got in the winter when the snow would cover the front door. It was called “cabin fever.” My mother tried to explain to me what kind of sickness it was but I never understood.
The neighbors had a young teenage boy named Andy and I had a crush on him, declaring him my boyfriend. He barely spoke to me but nevertheless when Nana gave me chocolates, I saved them and brought the bag of chocolates through the woods to the neighbors’ house for Andy. The gift went unacknowledged. Even in those days of relative innocence, I had found my first of many love obsessions. It would be several failed relationships and 30 long years spent in pursuit of love before I would find someone I loved. Someone who has loved me back, mental illness and all, in a marriage of almost 25 years. Not that long in the scheme of things.
Pop dying was the first loss I experienced. I remember not understanding death at all, sitting on Nana’s lap and asking where he had gone. She could not answer me. Nana and I corresponded by letter after that until she died many years later.
It was in those days of cool summers that I fell in love with nature and the countryside, although as a city girl, I was scared of the pitch black nights. It would take me 50 years before I would escape the city when my husband and I got a little barn in rural upstate New York.
As I sit recuperating from a recent illness, I ponder the turns my life has taken and wonder what lies ahead, not without fear, but with growing equanimity.
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It is Friday night. Ten thirty and I still have not eaten. I walk into the kitchen, take out a can of soup and dump the contents into a pot. I walk into the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet and stare at the three bottles on the top shelf. Mellaril. Stellazine. Valium. I have already taken my Stellazine. Valium is the drug of choice for the night. I take one of the yellow pills out of the Valium bottle, go into the kitchen again and pour glass of wine. The pill goes down. The wine goes down. And the soup goes into a bowl. I sit in the yellow light at the kitchen table, and force myself to swallow the soup that doesn’t want to go down. Another glass of wine.
SHIT! IT’S 11:00. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PULL ANOTHER STUNT LIKE LAST SATURDAY. DRESSING AND UNDRESSING. GETTING UP ALL THE NERVE AND LOSING IT. HIGH. SO HIGH. READY TO GO FINALLY AT 1:00 A.M. AND THEN DECIDING IT WAS TOO LATE. TOO LATE TO GO ROAMING AROUND NEW YORK ALONE. YOU CAN’T DO THAT AGAIN. BUILDING UP ALL THE TENSION AND THEN JUST GOING TO BED. YOU CAN’T DO THAT AGAIN.
I wash the dishes. Brush my teeth. Comb my hair. Change my blouse. Change my shoes. Comb my hair again. Change into a different pair of shoes.
SHIT! 11:30. GET OUT OF HERE. GO! JUST GO!
I walk into the street and into the late February night. It is freezing.
TAKE A CAB. A BUS. NO, WALK. IT’S OKAY. WALK. JUST MOVE ONE LEG IN FRONT OF THE OTHER AND WALK.
72nd St. 68th St. 66th St. The streets go by so fast. Too fast. 65th St. I approach the door. This is it. A camel flashes in red neon lights in the window and above that a sign painted in gold appears to vibrate in the neon light— “Arabie”. “The Club” as it is known. Four women are in front of me. Two guys hanging out in front of the disco next door make comments. The women make like they don’t hear. I can’t make out what the guys are saying. I just follow the four women in through the red door. I’m doing it. I’m actually doing it! A stout man asks me for five dollars as I get to the door and he gives me two tickets. The tickets say they are good for one drink. I follow the four women inside and line up to check my coat in the cloak room on the left. It is lined in red velvet. I fumble with the coat check ticket as I try to take the whole scene in at once. The walls are also lined in red velvet. I feel as if I have walked inside a giant womb. The air is filled with smoke and a flood of voices overwhelms my ears. Twinkling lights line the reflection-laden mirror behind the bar. I try to take a breath. I see women everywhere. Sexy looking women. Butches. Dykes. All kinds of women. Women talking. Women hugging. Women kissing. I feel dizzy and giddy. I feel all eyes are upon me, but walking up to the bar to order a drink I relax a bit and I see they are not.
THIS IS PERVERTED STUFF.
My legs want to run back out of the door into the street for a breath of air.
NO. YOU’VE GOT TO SEE. CALM DOWN. LISTEN. HEAR THE MUSIC. IT’S COMING FROM THE BACK. THERE’S AN UPSTAIRS. GO TO THE BAR. GET A DRINK AND THEN GO TO THE STAIRS. CLIMB UP THE STAIRS AND LOOK AROUND. YOU’RE JUST SCARED. YOU HAVEN’T COME THIS FAR JUST TO RUN OUT THE DOOR AGAIN. RELAX. LOOK RELAXED, GODDAMN IT, OR THEY’RE GOING TO THINK YOU’RE STRAIGHT. RELAX, YOU FOOL.
I down the rest of my drink and go over to the bar to order another. I gulp. My body slowly loosens to the effects of the alcohol. The tension in my muscles unwinds in hot little waves. I want to dance. Women with women. It doesn’t seem perverted anymore. I decide I like it. I feel safe. I feel free at long last. Free to be me.
I watch a woman in a long white skirt dancing near the bar by herself. She sees me looking and smiles. Is she smiling at me? I look away.
I sip the rest of my second drink more slowly. More women are coming upstairs to dance and the dance floor is filling up. The wall opposite the bar and the DJ station is all mirrored and the reflections of the dancing bodies double the size of the crowd. I begin to feel giddy with the smoke and the reflections and the music and the alcohol and the bodies. I lean against the bar to steady myself. I watch the dancers and through the sea of undulating bodies I see a woman leaning up against the mirrored wall watching. She is alone. Tall. Black. Well-built. Dressed all sexy with a blouse open at the neck and tight fitting jeans and boots. She stands straight and cool with her shoulders thrown back and her head held high on the muscular body of a dancer. Her eyes a counterpoint of pride and vulnerability. She sees me looking. I keep staring and when the woman looks over to me again I let my eyes meet hers. Our eyes play a game of flirtation across the room, between the sea of dancing bodies which separates us. My courage is building. When the woman looks over again, I smile. The woman smiles back. She walks across the room to where I am standing at the bar.
“Would you like to dance?” she asks in a sweet, accented voice.
From Chapter 6 of my memoir on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eye-locks-Other-Fearsome-Things-ebook/dp/B007TOOF56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051643&sr=1-1&keywords=eye-locks Also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.
I look down at the catalogue card on my desk. I look at the first subject heading. It says: “City planning – Zoning.” I see the word “City” and I see the word “planning” but I see them as “City – planning – Zoning,” something I’ve never seen before. I go over to Tony.
“Tony, is this a new subject heading? I’ve never seen the two together before.”
Dr. Lencek is standing by, listening and he says, “Ah, indirect communication.”
I hold the words in my mind. “Indirect communication.” What does he mean?
Tony answers gently, “Ellen, that’s not a new subject heading— we’ve used it before.”
I look down at the card. Of course, it isn’t a new heading. Now the words look normal. “City planning – Zoning.” My face burns hot and red. How stupid! I’ve used the heading for years. I slink back to my desk in embarrassment.
“It will get easier,” Dr. Lencek says.
“INDIRECT COMMUNICATION.” DR. LENCEK SAID THAT AFTER YOU SAID YOU HAD NEVER SEEN THE TWO TOGETHER BEFORE. YOU MEANT THE TWO PERSONALITIES INSIDE YOU. YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THEM BEFORE. YOU WERE DESCRIBING YOUR MENTAL STATE IN INDIRECT COMMUNICATION. THAT’S WHAT DR. LENCEK MEANT. THAT’S WHY DR. LENCEK IS ALWAYS TELLING YOU TO FREEZE ONE PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME AND KEEP IT IN THE MEMORY. “HOLD IT IN YOUR MIND,” HE ALWAYS SAYS. HE IS TRYING TO GET YOU TO BE ONE MIND— ONE PERSON. YOU’RE SPLIT IN TWO.
I feel weaker than ever now, though I am sitting. I look over at Dr. Lencek who is standing nearby Tony’s desk working. I want to hug him. All the times I was so nasty to him when he was trying to communicate with me . . .
IT’S THE PLAN. IT’S THE PLAN YOU OVERHEARD DANIELLE DISCUSSING WITH CAROLINE. YOU OVERHEARD DANIELLE SAY HOW SURPRISED SHE WAS THAT THE PERSONNEL HEAD WOULD ALLOW THEM TO GO THROUGH WITH THE PLAN. DANIELLE HAD THOUGHT THE HEAD WOULD HAVE SAID NO. THEY WERE PLANNING TO SHOW YOU HAD TWO PERSONALITIES.
But why would they bother helping me in this way? Why would they bother helping me at all after all my moodiness and fits of anger?
I am shaking now. I try to get up from my desk to look up the call number for the book. Dr. Lencek is standing by. Tony and Danielle are standing to the side watching me as I try to get up. I try to put one foot in front of the other. It is as if I have forgotten how to walk. My legs and feet don’t move the right way. I look up at Danielle. She probably overheard most of the conversation between Tony and me from this morning. She knows what is wrong with me. This is why she has kept away. She is watching me with an expression so dramatic that it is easy for me to see worry and compassion. There are tears in her eyes. For once I can feel the love. I want to run into her arms and cry. But I cannot walk. It is as if I am a big baby and when I finally do manage to walk slowly past them to the back of the room, I am unable to respond when Eva passes by and says hello. It is taking all my power and concentration just to walk to get where I am going. I suddenly am so exposed. Like a baby walking down the aisle. But, no, it is like I am being wheeled down the aisle. Something is moving me down the aisle and it is not my feet. I am in a big, dark, round cave. And in one corner of the cave is a small opening where the light shines in.
From Chapter 11 of my memoir on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Eye-locks-Other-Fearsome-Things-ebook/dp/B007TOOF56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051643&sr=1-1&keywords=eye-locks Also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.
This is the mind in mania, a sampling of the free-flow of racing thoughts and rhyming words that occur. On first glance, the meaning may seem random but in the context of the memoir, themes of paranoia and the flip side of mania, depression, are apparent.
I catch the Number Four bus. The bus is crowded. The motor in my head starts racing again.
IT’S PANIC. AND THEY’RE PUSHING. PUSHING AND SHOVING. AND THE STREET LIGHTS ARE FLASHING— GREEN VENOM/BLOODY TEARS ALTERNATELY ON THE RAINDROP WINDOWS OF THE BUS. AND THAT WOMAN OVER THERE IS STARING, DAMNED BITCH! AND THAT HAIRY MAN— THE EYES ARE PROBING AND LOCKING. IT’S SHOCKING. THE MIND MOTOR’S GOING FASTER AND FASTER STILL. NERVE ENDINGS FIRING. AXONS AND DENDRITES SYNAPSING ALL OVER THE GODDAMNED PLACE. AND THE STREETS CRAWL BY. FLIP FLOP. THE CAMERA SHOP. GOTTA MOP THE CAMERA SHOP. FLIP FLOP. THE BUTCHER SHOP. CHOP. CHOP. RAW MEAT DROPS AT THE FEET OF FAT FLESH. TICK TOCK. THE ROUND, WHITE INSTITUTIONAL CLOCK TICK-TOCKS TO THE CHOP CHOP OF THE BUTCHER SHOP. A SEAT. SIT DOWN. CLOSE THE EYES. YEAH. THAT’S BETTER. NICE AND EASY DOES IT. TRANQUILITY. SENILITY. DEBILITY. THE MIND MOTOR’S RACING. THE HANDS ARE SHAKING. GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. YOU’LL GO FAR IF YOU GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. KEEP THE EYES CLOSED AND GRAB HOLD OF THE BAR. THE BLACK HOLES IN SPACE TAKE THE PLACE OF THE RAY OF HOPE WHICH LIES LIKE A DOPE BURIED UNDER THE FALLEN STARS. A MURKY MIASMA AT THE BOTTOM OF THE UNIVERSE. REHEARSE THE HEARSE. ANOTHER STAR IS DYING AND TRYING TO REST AT BEST IN THE BOTTOM OF FOREVER. AND PEOPLE ARE LEAVING. AND THERE’S MORE SPACE. AND I’M DOWN IN THE VALLEY OF THE DESPAIRING DAMSELS, SITTING WITH THE DOTTED, SPOTTED DALMATIANS, IN THE PURPLE PANTRY PUDDLES OF THEIR PISS.
From Chapter 2 of my Bipolar/Asperger’s Memoir. For more information see:
Also available on Barnes & Nobles Nook, iBooks and Smashwords
This excerpt from Chapter 2 of my Biolar/Asperger’s memoir of finding love shows the beginnings of a psychotic breakdown.
I feel the electric light glowering at me. I look around the room in my basement apartment. The men following me. The phone call from Yvonne. Nothing is making sense. Obeah island witchcraft? Danielle’s thing. Danielle is the island woman. The room spins again. I feel like someone is watching me. I feel someone here— looking in the window.
Jumpy thoughts. Buzzing mind. I know the signs. Feeling the victim of a plot. Fear of being followed— of being watched— of evil spells coming out of an inanimate object— panic— magical thinking— paranoid ideation. I have made the break with reality. I have entered the deep, dark hollows of the paranoid’s world. Terror! I pick up the phone and dial. 242-6637.
“Hello, Dr.’s office.”
“Hello, may I please speak to Dr. Agostinucci?”
“Hold on a minute.”
“Hello, this is Dr. Agustinucci.”
“Hello, Joey. It’s Ellen. I’ve got to talk to you. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, you got me at a good time. I’m just in between sessions. What’s up?”
“Joey, I don’t know. I’m flipping out. I can’t sleep. I called Danielle last night and told her.”
“You told her what?”
“I told her what I told you— that I loved her. And then she told me that she wasn’t ‘that way’. And then . . . ” I start crying. “Oh, Joey, I’m so scared. I mean it means that all along I couldn’t see reality. I’ve been living in this fantasy world all this time, thinking Danielle’s in love with me and gay, and I’ve been drinking and drinking because I haven’t been able to sleep. And then today I started thinking that spells were coming out of the elephant that Sundra gave me. So I took the bus up to Columbia to throw it away. And then I thought two men were following me home. And Yvonne called me up from work and, Joey, I think it’s all a plot . . . ”
“Wait a minute, calm down. You’re all upset!”
I continue. “Yvonne and Danielle are in cahoots. Maybe they’re both testing me to see if I’m gay. Joey, I don’t know how I’m going to go to work tomorrow and face Danielle and face Yvonne . . . ”
“Calm down. One thing at a time. You’re overwrought.”
“But, Joey, I don’t know what is real and what’s not real anymore. I can’t sleep and I can’t stop crying.”
“Okay, look, I’ll give you a prescription. I’ll call in the prescription to the pharmacy. They’re probably still open. I’ll have it delivered. Just give me the name of the pharmacy you use— the one nearest you.”
“Uh . . . I’ve got to look it up— just a second . . .” I run to the bathroom to find a prescription bottle.
“Joey, it’s Rexall on 76th Street. The phone number is 663-7684.”
“Okay, look, I’m going to give you a prescription for Valium, 2 mgs. Take one pill and see what happens. If you still feel very anxious, take two.”
“Listen, I think you should go to work tomorrow.”
“Joey how can I? I keep bursting into tears.”
“Look, the Valium will help calm you. It’ll be a whole lot worse if you stay home. I suggest you call the Health Service first thing in the morning and make an appointment to see someone. Tell them it’s an emergency.”
“Okay, Joey, I guess you were right. You always told me I needed therapy and I always told you that I felt I’d go to pieces one day and now it seems that day has come.”
“Listen, you’re extremely upset. Take the Valium and try to get some sleep. If you need me you know where to reach me. And if things really get bad you know you can always go over to the emergency room in Lenox Hill.”
“Yeah, that’s right, I can always go there.”
“Listen, when I call in the prescription I’ll arrange for them to deliver it, too, so you don’t have to do anything. You have enough money to pay for it?”
“I don’t know. Let me see. Yeah, I think I do,” I say as I scramble through my purse.
“Okay, look, are you going to be able to answer the door? Or are you still scared of those men?”
“No, the doorbell only rang twice. Whoever it was is long gone. I’m not scared of that anymore.”
“Good. So just wait for the delivery. I’ll tell them to speed it up.”
“Thanks a lot, Joey! Thanks for everything!”
“Okay, take care, get some rest. I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you are.”
“Okay, thanks a lot, Joey, bye.”
For information on the memoir see: http://www.amazon.com/Eye-locks-Other-Fearsome-Things-ebook/dp/B007TOOF56/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345051643&sr=1-1&keywords=eye-locks The book is also available on Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks and Smashwords.